Chipping Away at Australian Consumer Payments, by Chris Hamilton


Take a quick look at the payment cards in your wallet or purse. There’s a good chance at least one of them sports a shiny embedded chip. You may have got this card quite recently. It may even have arrived to replace a card that hasn’t expired yet. You have probably used it in exactly the same way as other cards, and you may be wondering why it looks different. Well, the chip may look pretty, but it is a lot more than a fashion statement. It’s part of a quiet but emphatic paradigm shift in consumer payments. In effect, the chip converts the humble payment card, with its magnetic strip of static data (“mag-stripe” in the trade jargon), into a microprocessor. The chip is “dipped” into a terminal with extra software that can interact with it in a much more dynamic, flexible way.